Tabatha Wharton



a year+ in the life of my evolving, offbeat aesthetic as i navigate being
a mid-30s-femme-grown-up-emo-punk-single-mom-graduate-student-non-profit-employee-fashionista.


A few weeks ago, I was on the receiving end of some unexpected praise at work.

It was just a quick sentence, spoken in conversation, but it was a point of validation and recognition of my role as an employee. And because I’m me, I thought about it, mulled it over, because unanticipated praise or compliments always catch me off guard and due to my life experiences, I typically don’t trust them.

But then I realized the nuance of the statement.

And I realized that the compliment wasn’t necessarily regarding my abilities to accomplish the mechanics of my job — which I am more than proficient at — but it was more a comment on my demeanor and the gravity with which I take my role.

I realized (and later confirmed with a couple close coworkers) that it is not my intelligence or even my appearance that I bring as my strongest suit to my workplace each day that was being hailed that day.

It’s my fortitude.

It’s my unflappability balanced with the keen awareness of the humanity in each situation. It is my beleaguered patience that rarely breaks into a less desirable expression. It is my understanding of the processes in place as well as the logic and history behind them and my consistent adherence to the standards set by my superiors and by the laws that govern how my organization runs and serves it’s constituents.

In other words, it’s my unfuckwithable-ness.

It’s my do no harm but take no shit that makes me the employee I am in my workplace. It is the toughness my life has required me to develop, the hardness that’s calcified around my bullshitometer. It is the survival I have been made to find time and time again that grants me the wherewithal to tolerate the banalities while still investing in the causes and the projects that resonate deeply within my realms of expertise and experience.

It is the ways I show up, on many different levels, each and every time I clock in. purple lipstick and all.

And somehow, the recognition of that is a bigger compliment than any pleasantry based on a plastic smile and a forced repartee could ever be.

Grey sweatshirt dress: Express
White cotton tunic camisole: Old Navy
Black velvet vest: Zara (in Paris)
Black tights: Spanx
Agate geode slice necklace: DFWh
Gold teardrop white crystal prism earrings: Nordstrom Rack
Black studded sole booties: Catherine Malandrino
Lipstick: KVD Everlasting Liquid in Roxy